On Jan. 12, a U.S. Navy boat wandered into Iranian waters and the crew was captured. What could be seen as a provocative and dangerous situation, resulted instead in goodwill from Iran. The U.S. Navy crew was shown relaxing together on TV and one U.S. sailor spoke of the good treatment and understanding expressed by Iranian officials.
The positive response by Iran is a direct result of the peace agreement covering nuclear weapons and an end to U.S. sanctions. Without the agreement, this incident could easily have been seen as a provocation or even aggression by the U.S.
Back in September, a dozen peace and justice activists gathered at the Ford Federal Building in downtown Grand Rapids to support the Iran nuclear agreement, which effectively ends U.S. sanctions against Iran. The street corner rally was seen by hundreds of rush hour drivers on their way home. At one point, a weathered pick-up truck with hunting and gun logos pulled alongside the rally, the grizzled looking driver leaned over and gave a thumbs up to the protesters.
The Iran nuclear agreement comes at a time when the U.S. is trying to extract itself from the seemingly endless wars initiated by the Bush administration and continued under President Obama. While the whole world supported the peace deal and improving relations with Iran, only the Republican Party leadership and Israel opposed it and worked to sabotage it.
Kate Shockey initiated the sign holding here in Grand Rapids by introducing a resolution to the Institute for Global Education (IGE) Board welcoming the nuclear peace deal. Some IGE members spoke about how the peace deal should end the punishing sanctions imposed by the U.S. government, but warned the U.S. is known to break treaties or raise new claims as they did with Iraq.
Anti-war activists are well aware that sanctions are a form of warfare that the U.S. government uses to punish the people of another country. Following the first U.S. war on Iraq under President Bush in 1991, U.S. President Clinton imposed sanctions on Iraq that killed hundreds of thousands of children and elderly people. There was little to no access to clean water, electricity, medicines, and some basic foods needed for a healthy life.
At the time, U.S. Ambassador to the UN Madeleine Albright, appointed by Clinton, infamously justified the horrible deaths of half a million Iraqi children by saying, “We think the price is worth it.”
Other IGE members also pointed out the hypocrisy of the six countries involved in the negotiations–U.S., U.K., Germany, France, Russia, China–all holding large nuclear weapons arsenals themselves. Nationally, many peace and justice activists are concerned that Israel, unstable and aggressive, is the only country in the Middle East estimated to have 300 nuclear weapons, held in secret.
The Obama Administration, at the behest of Wall Street, is attempting to extract the U.S. from a long-term military presence in the Middle East, so it can shift its focus to the large markets in Asia. The Iran nuclear deal and end of sanctions are part of this continuing strategy shift.